Just a few short months ago, Derek Carr was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Fresno State University. After months and months of preparation, the day for which he’d been waiting his whole life had finally come: The NFL Draft.
With a deep crop of fellow quarterback prospects, it was hard to predict where Carr would land. After an agonizing day of waiting, he learned that he would be staying in California to play with the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders, who had just signed long-time Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, seemed to be in need of someone who could elevate the team, which in recent years has struggled.
After a long, arduous training camp and preseason, Carr has stepped to the forefront as someone who could potentially fill that role. With the team in need of a savior, Carr could be it, especially with his background with a different Savior.
When Carr was in college, he led the lifestyle expected of most college students (and especially football players): Long nights and partying occupied a good chunk of his time, and if it weren’t for the woman who became his wife, he may have continued on that path.
“I think Christ really became real to me when my wife, who was just my friend at the time, wrote me a letter that said, ‘You’re not the person that I thought you were,’” Carr notes.
Heather says, “He would say one thing but act the opposite way. So he was talking about God and how much he loved God, but then I would see him going to the parties, hanging out with the girls.”
It was here that Derek finally saw his life clearly, and he decided that then would be the best time to change things for good. “I remember at that moment I felt so selfish, so arrogant, so cocky. I was still a nice, genuine person, but all of a sudden all of these feelings came upon me and I got down on my knees and it was finally that time when God put His foot down on my throat and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got special plans for you and you’re screwing it up.’”
Following this newfound connection with God, Carr had to gear up for a game against Ole Miss. He got up in front of his team in the locker room and announced that he was ready to start living his new lifestyle, and that he wanted them to watch how he led his life.
While they ended up losing a nail-biting game, Carr threw for nearly 300 yards and also added a touchdown on the ground. Standout performances like this are what made him such an appealing prospect, and it might not have happened at all without Heather ’s intervention encouraging Derek to rekindle his relationship with God.
As of this writing, it’s days before the regular NFL season kicks off. Carr was sharp in his first four preseason games, outplaying the veteran Schaub; for that he was named the starting quarterback for their Raiders’ Week 1 game against the New York Jets.
It’s been three years since that breakthrough moment for Carr, and he’s continued to grow,as a person, and in closeness to God, with each passing day. “That’s how I know God’s with me,” he says, “because I know I have peace and joy. I can’t describe it, but I have it and I know it’s real.” —Brian Rzeppa